DILG welcomes Senate’s openness to federalism

MANILA -The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) welcomes the statement of Senate President Tito Sotto III that the Senate is working on the proposed shift to a federal government and has never abandoned this effort.

"We welcome the pronouncement of Senate President Sotto since it clarifies the official position of the upper chamber. This should put an end to all speculation that federalism is dead or dying in the Senate," DILG Assistant Secretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said in news release issued Wednesday.

Malaya said they are prepared to work with the Senate in crafting a new federal charter in the wake of MalacaAang statements that the President is fully committed to the shift to federalism.

"In fact, he is the one leading the campaign for federalism, and will be joining a key point in the Federalism Roadshow being conducted by the DILG," he said.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Sotto assured the public that the Senate continues to work on the proposed shift to a federal government.

"While there are some senators who have expressed their apprehension about taking up the proposed shift to federalism before the May 2019 elections, the Senate has not abandoned this effort," he said.

The Senate President added that the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments continues to conduct hearings on the various proposals on Charter change and will take the matter up in plenary at the proper time.

Sotto made this statement following criticisms that the federalism campaign is dead and waning because of lack of support in the Senate.

"This only proves that federalism, contrary to what critics have been repeatedly saying, is alive and well and will only get stronger now that the government has formed an inter-agency committee to seek public feedback on the draft federal charter prepared by the Consultative Committee (ConCom) headed by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno," Malaya said.

"As it is, the draft is not yet final and the President is soliciting comments from all the stakeholders. So we'd like to engage all sectors, especially our senators and fellow workers in government, to give their inputs. This is the constitution of the Filipino people, so we'd like to keep discussions and debate open to all, he added.

During a media forum in Butuan City, former ConCom member Professor Eddie Alih said federalism would help Caraga develop its agricultural and mining sectors.

"Unequal distribution of wealth leaves not just Caraga, but other regions gasping from the effort of trying to catch up with the rest of the country. Federalism is about empowerment. People in the regions are more abreast of their own needs and could come up with more targeted and specific solutions to their own problems, Alih said.

He said giving the regions control of the resources will allow the agriculturally-inclined regions the capability to develop as food producing centers of the country.

At the moment, the system of centralized economic decision-making concentrates resources in the National Capital Region and in regions that are favored by the National Government.

This denies regions, like those in Mindanao, the proper perspective and resources to focus on agricultural production. (PR)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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